SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

268

The future response of the Antarctic ice sheet to rising temperatures remains highly uncertain. A useful period for assessing the sensitivity of Antarctica to warming is the Last Interglacial (LIG) (129 to 116 ky), which experienced warmer polar temperatures and higher global mean sea level (GMSL) (+6 to 9 m) relative to present day. LIG sea level cannot be fully explained by Greenland Ice Sheet melt (∼2 m), ocean thermal expansion, and melting mountain glaciers (∼1 m), suggesting substantial Antarctic mass loss was initiated by warming of Southern Ocean waters, resulting from a weakening Atlantic meridional overturning circulation in response to North Atlantic surface freshening. Here, we report a blue-ice record of ice sheet and environmental change from the Weddell Sea Embayment at the periphery of the marine-based West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), which is underlain by major methane hydrate reserves. Constrained by a widespread volcanic horizon and supported by ancient microbial DNA analyses, we provide evidence for substantial mass loss across the Weddell Sea Embayment during the LIG, most likely driven by ocean warming and associated with destabilization of subglacial hydrates. Ice sheet modeling supports this interpretation and suggests that millennial-scale warming of the Southern Ocean could have triggered a multimeter rise in global sea levels. Our data indicate that Antarctica is highly vulnerable to projected increases in ocean temperatures and may drive ice-climate feedbacks that further amplify warming.

264

Many functions have been postulated for the aerodynamic role of the avian tail during steady-state flight. By analogy with conventional aircraft, the tail might provide passive pitch stability if it produced very low or negative lift. Alternatively, aeronautical principles might suggest strategies that allow the tail to reduce inviscid, induced drag: if the wings and tail act in different horizontal planes, they might benefit from biplane-like aerodynamics; if they act in the same plane, lift from the tail might compensate for lift lost over the fuselage (body), reducing induced drag with a more even downwash profile. However, textbook aeronautical principles should be applied with caution because birds have highly capable sensing and active control, presumably reducing the demand for passive aerodynamic stability, and, because of their small size and low flight speeds, operate at Reynolds numbers two orders of magnitude below those of light aircraft. Here, by tracking up to 20,000, 0.3 mm neutrally buoyant soap bubbles behind a gliding barn owl, tawny owl and goshawk, we found that downwash velocity due to the body/tail consistently exceeds that due to the wings. The downwash measured behind the centreline is quantitatively consistent with an alternative hypothesis: that of constant lift production per planform area, a requirement for minimizing viscous, profile drag. Gliding raptors use lift distributions that compromise both inviscid induced drag minimization and static pitch stability, instead adopting a strategy that reduces the viscous drag, which is of proportionately greater importance to lower Reynolds number fliers.

261

This work provides an internationally comparable consumer food waste dataset based on food availability, energy gap and consumer affluence. Such data can be used for constructing meaningful and internationally comparable metrics on food waste, such as those for Sustainable Development Goal 12. The data suggests that consumer food waste follows a linear-log relationship with consumer affluence and starts to emerge when consumers reach a threshold of approximately $6.70/day/capita level of expenditure. These findings also imply that most empirical models overestimate consumption by not accounting for the possibility of food waste in their analysis. The results also show that the most widely cited global estimate of food waste is underestimated by a factor greater than 2 (214 Kcal/day/capita versus 527 Kcal/day/capita). Comparison with estimates of US consumer food waste based on national survey data shows this approach can reasonably reproduce the results without needing extensive data from national surveys.

258

The current outbreak of viral pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, China, was caused by a novel coronavirus designated 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organization, as determined by sequencing the viral RNA genome. Many patients were potentially exposed to wildlife animals at the Huanan seafood wholesale market, where poultry, snake, bats, and other farm animals were also sold. To determine the possible virus reservoir, we have carried out comprehensive sequence analysis and comparison in conjunction with relative synonymous codon usage (RSCU) bias among different animal species based on existing sequences of the newly identified coronavirus 2019-nCoV. Results obtained from our analyses suggest that the 2019-nCoV appears to be a recombinant virus between the bat coronavirus and an origin-unknown coronavirus. The recombination occurred within the viral spike glycoprotein, which recognizes cell surface receptor. Additionally, our findings suggest that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the 2019-nCoV based on its RSCU bias resembling snake compared to other animals. Taken together, our results suggest that homologous recombination within the spike glycoprotein may contribute to cross-species transmission from snake to humans. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

255

Effortless learning during sleep is everybody’s dream. Several studies found that presenting odor cues during learning and selectively during slow wave sleep increases learning success. The current study extends previous research in three aspects to test for optimization and practical applicability of this cueing effect: We (1) performed a field study of vocabulary-learning in a regular school setting, (2) stimulated with odor cues during the whole night without sleep monitoring, and (3) applied the odor additionally as retrieval cue in a subsequent test. We found an odor cueing effect with comparable effect sizes (d between 0.6 and 1.2) as studies with sleep monitoring and selective cueing. Further, we observed some (non-significant) indication for a further performance benefit with additional cueing during the recall test. Our results replicate previous findings and provide important extensions: First, the odor effect also works outside the lab. Second, continuous cueing at night produces similar effect sizes as a study with selective cueing in specific sleep stages. Whether odor cueing during memory recall further increases memory performance hast to be shown in future studies. Overall, our results extend the knowledge on odor cueing effects and provide a realistic practical perspective on it.

244

An outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that began in Wuhan, China, has spread rapidly, with cases now confirmed in multiple countries. We report the first case of 2019-nCoV infection confirmed in the United States and describe the identification, diagnosis, clinical course, and management of the case, including the patient’s initial mild symptoms at presentation with progression to pneumonia on day 9 of illness. This case highlights the importance of close coordination between clinicians and public health authorities at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as the need for rapid dissemination of clinical information related to the care of patients with this emerging infection.

239

To examine the validity and findings of studies that examine the accuracy of algorithm based smartphone applications (“apps”) to assess risk of skin cancer in suspicious skin lesions.

232

There is extensive, yet fragmented, evidence of gender differences in academia suggesting that women are underrepresented in most scientific disciplines and publish fewer articles throughout a career, and their work acquires fewer citations. Here, we offer a comprehensive picture of longitudinal gender differences in performance through a bibliometric analysis of academic publishing careers by reconstructing the complete publication history of over 1.5 million gender-identified authors whose publishing career ended between 1955 and 2010, covering 83 countries and 13 disciplines. We find that, paradoxically, the increase of participation of women in science over the past 60 years was accompanied by an increase of gender differences in both productivity and impact. Most surprisingly, though, we uncover two gender invariants, finding that men and women publish at a comparable annual rate and have equivalent career-wise impact for the same size body of work. Finally, we demonstrate that differences in publishing career lengths and dropout rates explain a large portion of the reported career-wise differences in productivity and impact, although productivity differences still remain. This comprehensive picture of gender inequality in academia can help rephrase the conversation around the sustainability of women’s careers in academia, with important consequences for institutions and policy makers.

226

Ageing is accompanied by deterioration of multiple bodily functions and inflammation, which collectively contribute to frailty. We and others have shown that frailty co-varies with alterations in the gut microbiota in a manner accelerated by consumption of a restricted diversity diet. The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) is associated with health. In the NU-AGE project, we investigated if a 1-year MedDiet intervention could alter the gut microbiota and reduce frailty.

217

This study examined the relationship between body height and dementia and explored the impact of intelligence level, educational attainment, early life environment and familial factors. A total of 666,333 men, 70,608 brothers, and 7388 twin brothers born 1939-1959 and examined at the conscript board were followed in Danish nationwide registers (1969-2016). Cox regression models were applied to analyze the association between body height and dementia. Within-brothers and within-twin pair analyses were conducted to explore the role of shared familial factors including partly shared genetics. In total, 10,599 men were diagnosed with dementia. The association between one z-score difference in body height and dementia (HR: 0.90, 95% CI: 0.89;0.90) was inverse and weakened slightly after adjustment for intelligence test scores and educational level. The associations persisted in within-brother analysis and revealed a stronger, but less precise, point estimate than the cohort analysis of brothers. The twin analysis showed similar, but imprecise estimates.